State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie started a tour of upstate New York this week, with several stops in the Syracuse area.
Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, admits that while he was just an Assembly member, he didn’t make it much out of the confines of New York City. But since he’s taken a leadership position in state government as the most powerful member of the Assembly, he says it’s part of his job to take a broader view of the state.
"It’s a way for me to connect with non-New York City communities, and to have first-hand knowledge, so when my colleagues get up and they talk about things that are important to their areas, it’s easier for me because I will have seen some of the things first hand that they speak about," Heastie said.
Heastie says it’s also good for upstaters to see him, so they don’t buy into the thought that downstate people don’t care about upstate.
"There’s more things that unite us," he said. "That’s why I like coming to parts of the state outside the city of New York, so I can dispel that silly rumor that downstate people don’t care about upstate New York.”
He says upstate lawmakers have power in the legislature.
"I would say upstate is getting it’s fair share in transportation money, economic development and education money," Heastie said. "There’s 20 something members that represent upstate New York, and there’s no way we’d be a successful conference if we weren’t adhering to the needs of those 20 odd members.”
Heastie has taken similar trips before.
This summer he’s also visiting Rochester, the North Country, and western New York. He will visit other areas, including the Southern Tier, later in the summer and fall.